Re-Watch: Babylon 5.

After a pause in binge watching of Babylon 5, I re-started, because I expect to meet with a lot of other B5 fans soon.

I just finished the first season, and I will say that I still do not understand the people calling Michael O’Hare’s acting “wooden”. It may be a bit understated, but at times, just a facial expression tells more than many words.

While season 1 is not the strongest of the series, it serves very well for setting up the story, and a great introduction to the main characters, and a glimpse of what is to come.

Here is an example: The much maligned episode TKO has one of the really strong character moments for Ivanova. I know that many skip the episode, but then they miss out on this excellent character moment, and a follow up to a small thread from a previous episode.

I will rate my re-viewing of this season as 8/10

Watched etc. In December 2019.

Not too much this month, other activities, including family traditions, took over this month:

Finished season 1 of “His Dark Materials” on HBO. Very good

9/10

Finished Gotham, seasons 3 and 4. Average,

7/10

Finished Bletchley Circle, and Bletchley Circle – San Francisco. I like them.

8/10

Listened to:

Finished audio book:
Terry Pratchett: Mort
Good fun, Pratchett has a quirky sense of humour, and it feels like he had fun writing this.
Rating 8/10.

 

Audio Book: Terry Pratchett: Mort.

This is my first Pratchett book. I have been recommended to read (in this case listen to) Terry Pratchett from several people. Now I got started.

Mort is a story in the Disc World series. (Audio book).

Mort, a young boy is searching for an apprenticeship, as he is at the coming-of-age stage in his life. There is a special day for that in his society. All of the day passes, and he still has not found it. Just before the end of the day, he is approached by an odd looking person. Yes, it turns out to be Death, wanting an apprentice.

Of course, not everything is as expected, Death has a daughter, and an assistant. After a while Mort is sent out to do Death’s work, and, of course his humanity is getting in the way.

In the end, he actually does get a second chance for life.

I like the quirky humour of Pratchett, it is not hilarious, making me laugh out loud, but it often gives me a chuckle.

I do want to get a bit more into Pratchett’s work, given the time to do it, and I will rate Mort at:

8/10

 

TV: His Dark Materials, Season 1.

I have just watched the season 1 finale of the TV adaptation of Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

This is excellent fantasy on TV. Here is my quick review:

Lyra sets out on a quest to find other missing children. A story of fanaticism, multiple worlds, armoured bears and, of course, betrayal.

I liked this quite a bit, and I want to revisit it, especially when new season(s) come, and my quick rating is:

9/10

Gotham, Seasons 1 – 4 Impressions.

I have now watched 4 seasons of Gotham, available on Netflix here. I have heard that there is a season 5, but it is not available, at least not now.

Gotham covers the development of Bruce Wayne and other characters from the time of the murder of his parents.

The series is quite fun to watch, the proto-villains are outrageously over-the-top. All are absolutely mad in a very cartoon-ish way. I wonder if a title like “City of Lunatics” should be considered for the series.

The development of Jim Gordon is probably the most well covered aspect of the series, I have considered if the series should have been called the “Jim Gordon” show.

While I have no plans for re-watching this series (there is far too much good stuff out there), I did enjoy watching it.

Rating of seasons 1 – 4: 7/10

Watched In November

Finished season 1 of The Umbrella Academy. Time travel, apocalypse etc. Was well entertained.
7/10 (solid)
Finished “The Spy”, limited 6 episode series.
Solid 7/10
Finished “The Order”, season 1.
OK, not spectacular, 7/10

Re-watch:
Lord of the Rings (theatrical versions):
1) Fellowship of the Ring. Lots of material from the book is missing. The shifting mood of the books are mostly retained, and well done.
8/10
2) The Two Towers
Lots of good stuff from the books is missing
7/10
3) The Return of the King.
Again good stuff from the books missing, but still has the emotional effect. Maybe because I know the books so well.
9/10
Still rating the theatrical releases as a whole:
8/10

 

Lord Of The Rings: Books Vs Films (Theatrical Releases).

While traveling earlier this year, I have been listening to the Lord of the Rings book trilogy on audio. Excellent reading by Rob Ingliss.
Further, because they were available on Netflix, recently I re-watched the three movies of the theatrical releases.
Previously I have watched the extended editions, too, but they are not in my recent memory.

Here is my impressions of the releases, for the moment:

I have loved the books since I first read them, first in Danish, then in English. This happened in the 1980s, and for a while I read all three books every year or two.
This means that when I first saw the films at their release around 2000, I could easily compare the films and the books, in relation to what was included in the films, and what was changed.
While I can understand the need to remove some parts of the books in order to fit the rather massive story into about 3×3 hours, it does result in some flaws in the films. Here are a few examples:

From the first film/book: Fellowship of the Ring:
– when I first saw the movie, I was wondering if I had missed a part of it. The hobbits were fleeing the Black Rider, crossing the Brandywine river in the ferry boat, and suddenly they were at the gate in Bree. No unmasking of the “conspiracy”, no Old Forest, no Tom Bombadil, and no finding their weapons in the Barrow Downs.
I might have accepted missing Tom Bombadil, but the swords found at the Barrow Downs are significant at a later stage: The sword that Merry receives at that point is the one that can destroy a ring wraith. Now this just happens with no explanation at all. It is not even mentioned in Rivendell, where Elrond *could* have explained the significance of the sword.
– I can accept the merging of the characters of Glorfindel and Arwen, if only for the Arwen/Aragorn part of the story. Also, it does not really detract from the main story.
– also, though it is kind of spoilery, I can accept the beginning of the movie, providing the back story of the Ring.

From Book 2: The Two Towers:
– parts of the orc hunt and Merry and Pippin’s experience with the orcs and Treebeard have been cut, but it does work.
– The arrival of the elves at Helm’s Deep was confusing, having read the books, but I can see that it would not be so, if someone is watching the films alone.

From Book 3: Return of the King:
– Elrond coming to see Aragorn at Helm’s Deep is a change that becomes rather inconsistent with the books, and made little sense to me.
– A large part of the story is completely missing, especially there is absolutely nothing about meeting Saruman on the way home, and having to deal with him in the Shire when they arrive home. Everything is just unchanged when they return to the Shire. I consider this a significant part of the story, because it shows how the hobbits have grown since the start of their journey.
These are just examples of changes to the story, there is much more, but it will have to do for now.

Did I enjoy the films? YES! I did, they still have excellent changes form the beautiful to the horrific, just like the books. The landscapes they film in are magnificent (I would like to visit some of those places). The moods in the films are excellent, as are the vast majority of the characters.

I still find that the films have a strong emotional effect. Maybe this is because I know the books so well.
I love the cinematography and the music used, and I am aware that the films could not have been made at all before their time, because the technology to make the effects did not exist.

So yes, despite the flaws I see, I like the films quite a bit.

Here is how I would rate the films and the books:

1) Theatrical versions: 8/10
2) Extended versions: 9/10
3) Books: 10/10

I am aware that I need to re-watch the extended versions again some time, but not just now.

Gotham, Season 2.

I recently finished watching Gotham, season 2, on Netflix

Gotham is, of course, a TV series on Bruce Wayne’s journey from the murder of his parents to becoming Batman.

While this series is not sensational, I do enjoy watching the slow progressions of both Bruce Wayne and Detective Gordon. Also, the back stories of several of the classic Batman adversaries is not too bad.

Season 2 saw Gordon in deep trouble, and the descent into madness of his friend from Forensics, E. Nygma. (Yes I know, the future Riddler).

Talking about madness, the program of the Arkham Asylum is quite mad, as is its head figure Hugo Strange, trying to bring (mad) people back from the dead and creating an army of madmen.

Bruce finds the killer of his parents, but finds that there is a greater conspiracy behind their murder. Despite his initial intention, he is incapable of killing the assassin.

I rate the season 7/10

 

The Order, TV Series.

I just finished watching the first season of the Netflix original series, The Order.

I was well enough entertained to follow through with the whole season. It is, however, not the strongest of the Netflix originals I have seen.

I found the characters OK, and the story line a little bit generic. I was well enough entertained, so the rating of the season is an average 7/10.